Thoughts on the Daily Pilot’s Allan Mansoor epic, the Fairgrounds, and Phu


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The first thing THIS writer has to say about that New-York-Times-Magazine-length essay that the Daily Pilot (Costa Mesa’s weekly paper) published on Allan Mansoor yesterday is:  They better do just as long and fair an article on his Assembly opponent Phu Nguyen pretty soon!  I mean, nobody around can remember EVER seeing such a long cover article in this little local paper.

But is the Mike Reicher piece really such a rhapsody of hagiography as it appears at first glance?  (Granted, first glance is everything to your average voter.)  It does kick off with that cringeworthy, worshipful title The Man named Mansoor. But I know from hard experience how editors will take a story you labored on for days and had already given the perfect title, and then slap some goofy-ass title onto it that changes the whole gist of the piece.  It’s the editor’s little playground, that title.

And curiously, if you look up at the top of the webpage, you can see they were originally planning to call it “The Man Behind Mansoor.” THAT would have been even creepier, and conjured up scary images of white supremacist Martin Millard, or serial politico-economic trainwreck Jim Righeimer.

My research assistant, who, shall we say, generally tends to perceive more sinister hidden connections than I do, sees this article as a second-hand payoff from Fairgrounds swindler Facilities Management West to the FMW booster Mansoor, in the wake of his having had to return their campaign contributions back in the spring.  That idea occurred to him because this is only freelance journalist Reicher’s second piece for the Pilot, and the first was an uncritical regurgitation of FMW talking points regarding the hiring of Becky Bailey-Findlay.  But I don’t know, the article seems reasonably balanced to me.

Within hours “The Potstirrer” – who is as withering a critic of the Minuteman Mayor as I am – did a good job picking out and elaborating on all the bits of the article that are critical or embarrassing to Allan.  (In fact he wove this into such a pitiless doozy of a Mansoor takedown that I practically feel sorry for the guy and will take it relatively easy on him today.)

I agree with The Potstirrer that this Reicher passage captures Allan in a nutshell:

Many, after knowing him for years, still can’t tell you much about him — as a person.   [Fellow] Councilman Eric Bever, who often votes with Mansoor on major city issues, put it bluntly: “There’s not a lot of personality there.”

And similarly, on his politics and philosophy:

Besides his anti-illegal immigration and pension reform postures, Mansoor’s agenda is rather non-descript. … As councilwoman Katrina Foley says, “I’m not sure what else he stands for.”

  • There’s also the grand understatement, “Alienating ethnic groups, especially large voting blocks, [sic – blocs] is perhaps Mansoor’s tallest election hurdle.”
  • There’s the bipartisan agreement from Moorlach on the right and Foley on the left that he’s stubborn, inflexible, hard to work with – not good for an Assemblyman!
  • There’s the betrayal felt by Orange County Sheriffs against a former 15-year jailer who turned unions like theirs into punching bags when he ascended to power – they’re thinking of backing Phu instead.  (Don’t think – do it!)

The Potstirrer points out some things Reicher should have followed up on:

  • Did he quit his cop job at the end of 2009, or was he fired, and why?
  • How’s it that he bought his parents a Virginia home, and then suddenly managed to borrow 100 grand from a Virginia bank to finance his campaign?
  • The hypocrisy of his railing against “too many renters” in Costa Mesa when he’s a renter now himself.
  • Where does he intend to live if he makes it to Sacamento?  Does he hope to scam taxpayers like his predecessor Van Tran?
  • And I would add, that Reicher could have pointed out the utter failure of Allan’s immigrant-bashing measures in Costa Mesa, such as his closing of the day-labor center which only led to more immigrants looking for work on the streets and sidewalks.

One part of the Reicher story I enjoyed was the lyrical quotations from Mansoor devotee, failed Senate candidate and wingnut novelist Chuck DeVore, who is really sounding loopier than ever:

“He carries a quiet authority … He expresses his beliefs with a calm assurance and dignity.”  *sigh!*

Also, “He brings a very important nuts-and-bolts law enforcement perspective to the Senate.”  No, Chuck, the Senate is where YOU were trying to get into.  Let it go now!

And, best of all, when Allan gets to Sacramento, “He’s going to be driving the idea train.” (LMAO!)

But by far the most classic bit is the very first paragraph, which explains what originally drove young Allan into politics in the first place – distaste of the catering truck going down his street with the horn blaring “La Cucaracha,” causing him to think of cockroaches.  ROTFLMAO!  Traumatized, defined, and driven by the La Cucaracha truck!  ¡Qué perfecto!

Or, is THIS more appropriate?

Allan and more Fairgrounds Swindle News

Back in the Spring as Costa Mesa searched for a financing/managing partner for its purchase of the Fairgrounds, Allan was the only Councilmember who favored Ken Fait’s Facilities Management West from the beginning, cryptically claiming “concerns” with then frontrunner American Fairs.  Maybe that’s because he’s always been close to the Fait family, maybe it’s because of the $6000+ in campaign donations from them that he was forced to return, or maybe he just really had good (secret) reasons to prefer them.  In any case FMW ended up with the deal, a rotten deal that many of us are still trying to derail, and Allan should probably not be going out of his way to piss off the state legislature who have to okay the deal.

Councilwoman Katrina Foley

But as we all know, that’s what he did, with his silly, pointless, political “Rule of Law City” declaration.  It’s easy for non-Latinos to forget how insulting gestures like that can be to Latinos, and as you know  the Latino Caucus has been threatening to hold the deal up or nix it in retribution.  The legislation okaying the FMW deal will need a 2/3 vote, and it was starting to look iffy.  (Although at least one member of the Latino Caucus, our old hero Jose Solorio, is now stubbornly on board with the FMW deal, and seems to be hellbent on making the rotten deal “as good as he can,” coating that pig with lipstick so to speak.)

THEN there was the memorable flare-up between Katrina and Allan at the August 10 “Fairgrounds Authority” meeting.  Katrina was attempting, as requested, to give an update on how things were proceeding in Sacramento.  [You can watch the great scene here, from 44:45 to around 48:00.]  As Katrina names off various variables affecting the legislation, she mentions – discreetly, discreetly –  that “there is also a concern from members of the Latino Caucus about some of the actions that have been taken by this Council.”

Allan can’t wait for her to finish her comments, but petulantly interrupts!  The way Allan sees it, the immigration issue is just a smokescreen, and it’s really probably just the damn UNIONS who are fighting the deal behind the scenes to save their Fairground jobs, and using Allan’s Rule of Law stunt as an excuse!  (I called out from the audience “And probably the Muslims too!” but my sarcasm went unnoticed.)  I filed that away as a colorful and revealing scene, showing how Allan childishly shirks responsibility for his actions, and how he can bash his two favorite targets – immigrants and unions – interchangeably.

Fast forward to last Friday night, my research assistant and I are at a fundraiser for Phu, and in walks Senator Lou Correa, who ALREADY – as I wrote in my last article – has substantive concerns about the FMW deal unrelated to Allan’s Rule of Law stunt, and we happen to describe this little scene to him.

Lou Correa FUMES, and wants us to send him a video of it.  We suddenly realize this is dynamite for derailing the sale – Not only is the deal rotten for Orange County citizens and taxpayers, not only is the immigrant-bashing Mayor dismissing the concerns of the Latino Caucus as phony, he’s adding fuel to the fire by bashing labor.  This will kill any chance of the bill getting 2/3 (especially as we also have most OC Republican legislators against it already.)  So, you can bet that there will be DVDs of this scene passed around Sacramento within the week.

Phu vs. Allan

My mission this summer/fall will be to get Phu Ngueyn and Allan Mansoor together in public, even if Allan continues to refuse to debate.  It’ll be hard for Allan to avoid Phu at Costa Mesa’s upcoming Halecrest and Hall of Fame Chili Cook-off Aug. 29, where Phu will be unveiling his original “Five-Alarm Vietnamese Chili.” I’ve noticed that when people, no matter how white, no matter how conservative, get to know Phu, with his warm jolliness and generosity, they invariably feel they have more in common with him than with the mopey cipher Allan.  There’s all this, for example:

  • The married family man with two kids, vs. the reclusive childless divorcee.
  • The successful entrepeneur, vs. the lifelong public employee / jailer / politician.
  • The man who embraces his ethnicity as well as that of others, vs. the man whose idea of being American seems to be striving toward a bland vanilla.

Oh – I don’t think I’ve posted this yet:


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.